Google Halts Expansion of Real Money Games in Brazil, Mexico, India

  • Expansion into the three countries was intended for June 2024, pending “user safety”
  • Google cited more difficult-than-expected hurdles with a lack of central licensing framework
  • DFS and rummy games in India and Mexico will continue unaffected
  • Brazil is expected to finalize its casino gaming and sports betting regulations this year
Google Play logo on phone
Google has halted the expansion of real money games in Mexico, India, and Brazil. [Image:]

Pause to real money gaming expansion

Google has announced a temporary pause in its planned expansion of real money gaming on the Play Store in several new territories.

were intended to be a springboard for further expansion in additional territories

The US tech company had announced in January that the expansion in Brazil, Mexico and India was slated for June 2024 pending “user safety,” but has now announced a hiatus in the plans, which were intended to be a springboard for further expansion in additional territories – part of a long-running strategy by the tech giant.

“Expanding our support of real-money gaming apps in markets without a central licensing framework has proven more difficult than expected,” the company said in a press release. “We need additional time to get it right for our developer partners and the safety of our users.”

Real money app pilots

Real money gaming allows users to earn cash by playing on apps released through the Play Store, such as daily fantasy sports, card games, and bingo. The Play Store, the main competitor to Apple’s App Store, allows users to install apps on Android devices, including mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.

A pilot had been granted in 2022 in India for both daily fantasy sports and rummy games to operate on the Play Store. Despite the pause to the rollout of the program, Google confirmed that these apps, which had formed part of the pilot program, would be able to continue unaffected. Mexico had also been operating a similar trial program, which began in 2023.

Gambling regulation hurdles

In India, the regulatory landscape is anything but clear, which may have been a major hurdle to Google’s plans. In January, plans for a new gaming regulator were paused, despite the fact that a 2023 law requires gambling apps to be verified by a self-regulating body, resulting in a legal deadlock in the country.

players were likely to suffer as operators passed on high tax levels to end users

In addition, industry experts recently warned that a lack of clarity over tax laws for iGaming companies meant that players were likely to suffer as operators passed on high tax levels to end users.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, the gambling regulator is expected to finalize its plans for legalized casino gaming and sports betting this year. The move comes as part of wider reforms and liberalization of gambling laws in the South American country, with President Lula da Silva stating that he would support the bill pending approval by the National Congress.

While there’s no indication on how long the regulatory challenges will hold back the progress of real money gaming on the Play Store, Google insisted that it remained committed to the expansion, stating: “Google Play remains deeply committed to helping all developers responsibly build new businesses and reach wider audiences across a variety of content types and genres.”

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